Narrowcasting – expanding our world

Australia, as a diverse and multicultural society, has a rich history of diasporic media production, particularly via public broadcasters the ABC and SBS.

In the case of the SBS, it is outline in its charter that ‘the principal function of SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society.’ (SBS 2011) Bollywood Star, which aired earlier this year, is an example of diasporic television which aimed to discover Aussie-Indian talent locally to ultimately star in a Bollywood film. Interestingly, one of the show’s judges identifies Bollywood as ‘something that’s pretty Australian now’, (Molitorisz 2012) likening it to yoga and meditation as an Australian subculture and declaring it as ‘as Australian as Home and Away or Bondi Beach’ (Molitorisz 2012).

But is it as Aussie as thongs…? (Source)

This example of exilic narrowcasting helps to ‘negotiate between’ (Naficy 2003, pp. 52-53) the two relevant communities and forms as it bridges the gap with traditional Indian “Bollywood culture” and contemporary reality television culture, which is a predominantly Western concept.

Futhermore, the ABC produces The Marngrook Footy Show, a primarily Indigenous Australian-focused program which serves as ethnic television, defined as programs produced ‘by long-established indigenous minorities’ (Naficy 2003, p. 51).

The Marngrook Footy Show team (Source)

The absence of such programs on commercial, free-to-air television in Australia indicates the limited appeal of such diasporic media to the broad Australian public (hence the term “narrowcasting”) and the importance of not-for-profit media broadcasters in the production such media to service an increasingly multicultural society, with a multitude of diasporic communities.

References

Molitorisz, S 2012, ‘Hooray for Bollywood’, The Age, 28 May, retrieved 27 August, <http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/hooray-for-bollywood-20120525-1z8lu.html>.

Naficy, H 2003, ‘Narrowcasting in diaspora: Middle Eastern television in Los Angeles’, in KH Karim (ed.), The media of diaspora, Routledge, London, pp. 51-62.

SBS 2011, ‘SBS charter’, retrieved 27 August, <http://www.sbs.com.au/aboutus/corporate/index/id/25/h/SBS-Charter>.

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4 Responses to Narrowcasting – expanding our world

  1. Matthew Eade says:

    I really liked your inclusion of the point that things usually associated with other cultures are defined as ‘pretty Australian now’. When I try to explain to friends overseas what Australian cuisine is (besides the obvious Vegemite, Four ‘n’ Twenty pie, and pavlova) I end up describing hybridised dishes from other nations – modern international cuisine. You’ve also highlighted the importance of not-for-profit media broadcasters in fostering narrow niche markets. If it weren’t for the likes of SBS we probably wouldn’t have shows like ‘Pizza’ that push the boundaries of what is considered ‘Australian’.

    • Rowan says:

      Yeah it really got me thinking about how much of our lives really are “Australian”: we eat foreign foods and watch American films and TV shows. We are essentially a culture of many cultures!

  2. Tori Rowden says:

    Hi Rowan, great blog post. It really got me considering the way diaspora is interlinked within the Australian community by the media. You incorporated all of the themes really well and made it very easy to relate to. Definitely informed me about narrowcasting, a term I was a bit stuck on previously!

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